Pet owners are being warned by a local veterinarian about the dangers of Lyme disease to their animals.
Cascade Veterinary Clinic in Princeton recently treated a dog for the tick-born ailment.
Dr. Ryan Ridgway said the dog “was highly suspicious of the disease given the symptoms and joint fluid findings that were confirmed on a blood test.”
Lyme disease can be fatal to animals.
“Yes, it can be by damaging the kidneys. It also causes long-term arthritis and chronic pain. In extremely rare cases, it can affect the heart as well,” said Ridgway.
Symptoms of Lyme disease include a stiff walk with an arched back, multiple swollen joints, sensitivity to touch, difficulty breathing, fever, lack of appetite, and depression.
The condition is spread by ticks as about one per cent of ticks in the Princeton area carry Lyme, noted Ridgway.
It can be spread in as little as 24 hours, when the ticks are extremely small and easily missed. Dogs, horses, cats and humans can be infected.
“Pets can bring ticks into the house so we recommend tick preventatives that quickly kill them in case they fall off,” Ridgway said.
The vet clinic recommends pets receive a year-round tick preventive, as Lyme can even occur during the winter. Over-the-counter medicines and natural therapies, as well as an available vaccine, do not go far enough to stop the disease, he said.
Pets should be routinely check for ticks as well.
“When pulling out ticks, don’t burn, suffocate or squeeze them to get them to detach as this increases the likelihood they will regurgitate and infect what they’ve bitten. The best way to remove them is with tweezers or a tick removal tool to pinch the head near the skin and pull straight out without twisting as that can leave the head behind.”
Ridgway said this recent infection is the first confirmed case of Lyme in the clinic.
“Prior to this case, we have had cases that were highly likely to be Lyme disease, but they responded to the treatment and the owners declined performing the blood test to confirm which tick born illness was present.”
He has also treated animals for other tick-born illnesses such as tick paralysis.
“If your pet is infected with Lyme disease, it can be difficult to treat and requires multiple medications to not only kill the infection and take down the joint inflammation but often immunosuppressants to protect the kidneys and repeat blood work to monitor for side-effects. Treatment can take up to two months depending on the case. Some times there are lasting damage to the kidneys or joints.”
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